Father Adrian Convery

Fr. Adrian Convery biography taken from the Cross Magazine 1959…

The death of Fr. Adrian of the VII Dolours on the morning of Sunday, 15th November, 1959 came as a great shock to the Religious of St. Patrick’s Province, It was known, of course, that he had been in a rather indifferent state of health over a period of two years, but even the Doctor did not regard his condition as in any way serious. It was felt that the surgical operation which he underwent on Wednesday, 11th November, would improve his general state of health, but it was far from the mind of anyone that his death would so shortly follow. Such was God’s Holy Will, and while we accept it with resignation, we mourn the passing of a Passionist who laboured sincerely and single-mindedly for the spiritual and material well-being of our Congregation.

Fr. Adrian, who was known in secular life as Patrick Convery, was born on July 30th, 1884 at Maghera, Co, Derry. The district and surroundings in which his boyhood and early manhood were spent have a rich Catholic tradition and an enviable record of giving good and saintly priests to God’s Church. It is not to be wondered at, therefore that Fr. Adrian was ever a man of deep faith and solid piety. As a young man he became apprenticed to a reputable firm of Wine & Spirit Merchants at Sydenham, near Belfast. The Church of his choice in that city was that of the Passionist Fathers at Holy Cross Ardoyne, and one of the Fathers there became his spiritual adviser. Gradually he began to feel attracted towards the Religious life and, after earnest prayer and mature counsel, he entered the Passionist Novitiate at St. Gabriel’s Retreat, Enniskillen, where he made his Religious Profession on Dec. 23rd. 1910. Having pursued the usual course of Philosophical and Theological Studies he was raised to the Sacred Priesthood on June 17th. 1917, at All Hallows College. Dublin.

His early business training provided him with a flair for administration, while his sterling spiritual qualities marked him as one who could lead others along the path of perfection. These characteristics were duly noted by his Superiors and during the thirty years succeeding his Ordination he held many responsible positions in the Congregation. including Director of Students. Vice-Master, and later, Master of Novices. In the early years of his Priesthood he conducted many Missions and Retreats throughout Ireland and Great Britain and to these he brought that zeal which was born of his earnest desire to do thoroughly any work that was God’s work.

His first Rectorship was that of St., Paul’s Retreat, llkley, Yorkshire, before the division of the Anglo- Hibernian Province in 1927. Later he held the position of Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, Mount Argus (1929-1935 and 1941-1947). During the interval between these terms of Rectorship he was Provincial of St. Patrick’s Province (1935 – 1941). The years of World War II – (1939-1945) were difficult ones for anyone holding Administrative office, but Father Adrian proved equal to the task and weathered the storm with equanimity.

During his first term of Rectorship in Mount Argus (1930) the much-admired Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected, He personally supervised the work, and the close resemblance which the Grotto bears to the far-famed Shrine at Massabielle is due to his thorough and pains-taking planning.

As is well known, the crowning point of his achievements, in the material sphere, was the undertaking of the completion of the Church at Mount Argus, and the erection of the new wing to house the increasing number of students. The initiation of a task of such proportions, at a time when the ugly threat of Global War overhung the world, called for a great spirit of Faith, and that, Father Adrian possessed in abundance.

The memory of him will live long amongst his brethren both in St. Patrick’s Province and in St. Joseph’s Province, while his unremitting devotion to the welfare of the Congregation will ever be an inspiration to future generations of Passionists.

The Obsequies took place on Tuesday, November 17th, and very many friends, clerical and lay, as well as a large number of Passionists from both Provinces, came to pay their last respects.

The words of the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians read at the Mass on the morning of Father Adrian’s death, the 26th Sunday after Pentecost. are singularly apt and fitly express our sentiments: “We give thanks to God always for you, making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing, being mindful of the work of your faith and labour and charity, and of the enduring of the hope of Our Lord Jesus Christ before God and Our Father”. (I Thess. 1, 2-3) St. Paul’s Retreat, Mount Argus, Dublin. Finian of the Sorrowful Virgin, Rector.

Fr. Adrian (Convery), C.P.

To the Community of St. Paul’s Retreat, Mount Argus it still seems scarcely credible that the familiar figure of Fr. Adrian will be seen no more. No one suspected, when he went to hospital early in November to undergo a surgical operation, that death would claim him so shortly afterwards. Indeed, the news of his death, on November 15th, 1959, filled every member of St. Patrick’s Province not only with dismay but with a sense of real loss.

Known in secular life as Patrick Convery, Fr. Adrian was born at Maghera, Co. Derry, on July 30th, 1884. As a young man, he was apprenticed to a business concern near Belfast, and this early training stood him in good stead in later life. Always a man of deep and simple piety, he used to visit the Passionist Church of Holy Cross, Ardoyne, Belfast, and chose one of the Fathers there as his Confessor. Thus was his vocation engendered and nourished. He entered the Passionist Novitiate. St. Gabriel’s Retreat, Enniskillen, where he made his religious Profession on December 23rd, 1910. His ordination to the Priesthood took place at All Hallows College, Dublin, on June 17th, 1917.

His talent for administration was early recognised, and during the thirty years succeeding his ordination, he held several responsible positions, including Director of Students, Vice-Master, and later Master, of Novices. He conducted many Missions and Retreats throughout Ireland and Great Britain, and before the division of the Anglo-Hibernian Province in 1927, he was Rector of St. Paul’s Retreat, Ilkley, Yorkshire. Later he held the Rectorship of St. Paul’s Retreat, Mount Argus, Dublin, for twelve years (1929-1935 and 1941-1947). During the interval between these terms of Rectorship (1935-1941) he was Provincial of St. Patrick’s Province. In all these capacities he merited well of his beloved Congregation, which he served with all the powers at his command. To every project undertaken by him, he brought a practical realism and an uncanny foresight.

Even as a student and in the early years of his Priesthood he cherished the dream of seeing one day the completion of the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus, the sanctuary of which was wholly inadequate, as the work had to be relinquished in 1872 owing to lack of funds. By the designs of Providence, Fr. Adrian was the one chosen to undertake the task, and his early dream was realized in 1938 when, as Provincial, he saw the opening of the present beautiful edifice. It will stand as a monument to his intrepid faith, his tireless efforts and his dauntless courage. The same may be said of the lovely Lourdes Grotto on the main avenue of Mount Argus, which was erected under his personal supervision in 1930. It is an enduring testament of his love for the Mother of God, in whose maternal protection he had ever a child-like trust. The last thirty years of his life were spent at Mount Argus, every stone and tree of which he cherished.

His loss will be deeply felt by all those who profited by his experienced counsel; by those who enjoyed the privilege of his friendship; and most of all by his brethren in religion who sadly mourn the passing of a cherished link with the past. On Tuesday, November 17th, Rev. Fr. Neil, C.P., nephew of the deceased, celebrated Solemn Requiem Mass at Mount Argus for the happy repose of Father Adrian’s soul. Requiescat in pace.

(The Cross, Vol. L, 1959-60; p. 287)

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